Maputo — Mozambique's Deputy Agriculture Minister Joao Carrilho urged his ministry's staff on Thursday to pay particular attention to water resource management and soil fertility, in implementing the second phase of the Special Food Security Programme (PAN-II).
Speaking during the ceremony to launch this programme, the first phase of which was undertaken between 1997 and 2002, Carrilho said "the fight against hunger requires a broad approach, taking measures not only to increase production among peasant farmers, but also setting up programmes to give greater access to food to needy people, both in rural and urban communities".
PAN-II, financed by the Italian government to the tune of 3.5 million US dollars for the next five years, will benefit about 25,000 peasants in three provinces, namely Maputo, Sofala, and Manica.
"In this phase, the programme will, unfortunately, cover only three provinces, although the number of districts has doubled, from six to 12", Carrilho said. "The most important aspect is that, instead of benefiting only 300 farmers, as was the case in the first phase, it is now to cover about 25,000".
The second phase will essentially focus on two main areas, namely participatory extension, and assessment in the area of food security, in the districts of Boane, Matutuine, Manhica, and Moamba, in Maputo province, Nhamatanda, Gorongosa, Caia, and Maringue, in Sofala, and Gondola, Sussundenga, Guru, and Machaze, in Manica.
Carrilho explained that PAN-II, assisted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "is part of the overall strategy for the fight against absolute poverty, which is also part of the Mozambican government's programme, in line with its national food security strategy".
The ceremony to launch this programme served also as the opening of a two day seminar where Agriculture Ministry technicians and cooperation partners are to discuss mechanisms for the implementation of the programme.
Carrilho said that such a meeting will only be fruitful if it is to discuss aspects that will help bring benefits to the people, otherwise it will be a waste of money.
To illustrate his point, he said that, for instance, if the meeting is unfruitful, the 100,000 dollars spent on organizing it would have been better used in creating irrigation facilities for about 500 households, taking into account the fact that one foot pump costs about 100 dollars, plus another 100 dollars to supply the household with agricultural inputs and other components.